ISO decent sour cherries
Fresh ones are probably out of the question right now. I have no problem with frozen fruit for pies but I have only seen frozen sweet cherries and not frozen sour cherries. Anyone else seen them in the Greater Boston area?
I have seen jarred and canned sour cherries at the River Street Whole Foods in Cambridge. I tried the jarred ones (source was Bulgaria I think) and I ended up throwing them away because they had no taste at all.
Has anyone tried the canned ones at Whole Foods or elsewhere that were good? Ideally I would like ones not in a syrup.
Sour cherries are the most of elusive of fruits in this area. For future reference, you can pick them for a few days in June at Smolak Farms.
As for the jarred ones, I think it was Cooks' Illustrated that suggested boiling down sour cherry juice to get more cherry flavor. You can get the juice at Whole Foods.
Shaw's carries canned one in water that are OK. Not brilliant in flavor, but hardly flavorless.
The cheapest and best jarred cherries are the Turkish ones you find in Turkish-Armenian markets, as in Little Armenia in Watertown.
I thought some Whole Foods carry frozen tart cherries.
Anyway, the fresh tart cherry season is about 2 weeks long in mid-late July - and precious few places in Boston carry them (I usually spend 2 weeks calling my usual source for word on the first day they will carry them). They are so precious to me that I would never cook them - they are reserved for making a sorbet, where the flavor is not muted by a touch of any heat (canned cherries, by contrast, improve with cooking). I still have some from last July in my freezer - I eat it by the spoonful for a taste of midsummer in midwinter.
Good luck to you. I would like to find a local source of fresh (or frozen) UNpitted sour cherries. Jane Grigson says to leave the pits in for more flavor when you make pie. I tried it, and she is right (when has she not been?). I know many people will not accept pits in their pie, but for the complex and heightened flavor, I don't mind chewing around and spitting out the pits.
Thank you Merryworld for the tip about Smolak farms. I will have to check them out (hope I can remember in June).
I have also been trying to find a good jarred or canned cherry (for making cherry pie) and found the Bulgaian cherries from Whole Foods to be quite good. In fact, far better than the Trader Joe's Morello cherries that consistently get high marks from Cook's Illustrated. I wonder why the ones you tried had no taste? I've found the tastelessness has been an issue with canned cherries in water, but not the jarred cherries in light syrup. Curious. Did you bake them into a pie, or just taste them right out of the jar? I can tell you from experience that they bake up quite well. And the color is a rich red, nothing like the pale, washed out red you get from canned cherries.
I just tasted them out of the jar. I tasted it before I bake it into a pie because why go to all the effort if your main ingredient isn't good? My jarred cherries didn't start out all that red. They looked like a dull purplish gray. I wonder if it was just a bad jar. I still have another jar in the pantry. Maybe I'll give it another shot.
I tasted them after adding the sugar, tapioca, almond extract, and a pinch of salt. They tasted fine. But they were even better as pie. (Sure, add a butter crust and what's not to like?) The canned cherries I've used were a purplish grey, and looked even less appetizing as pie. The jarred Bavarian cherries were more of a reddish purple, but looked quite good in the finished pie. And far fewer pits than TJ's Morello cherries. Truth is, I've been rather obsessing over cherry pie and am looking for a good substitute for those elusive fresh cherries. The Whole Foods jarred cherries are the best I've found so far. And my cherry pie taster at home insists that these made the best pies yet.
On a related note, has anyone seen brandied cherries? I've seen them in New York at a bar with the brand name "Les Parisiennes", which apparently Sysco provided them.
I really don't want to make these at home.